With the emergence of top pair Kevin Shattenkirk and Alex Pietrangelo, many would assume that the Blues would have a solid defense. However, with the continued growth of the young stars as well as considerable depth and talent behind them, St. Louis could have a defense unrivaled in the rest of the NHL. Let’s take a look at the other four defenseman (excluding Shattenkirk and Pietrangelo) who could determine the Blues’ success this season:
The 10-year veteran recently signed a 9.5 million dollar contract to stay with the Blues for the next three seasons, after having another solid year last season. Jackman played in at least 80 games for only the third time in his career, and added 13 points with 57 penalty minutes. However, his most impressive stats are his +/-, which stood at 20 during the regular season, and his TOI/G, which was over 20 minutes per game, no small feat at age 31. Jackman has given St. Louis consistent offensive production while also putting in big minutes on the penalty kill. He is a player willing to mix it up on the boards, and is a defensive constant for a team that relies too heavily on their top pair for offense. Definitely a good and necessary signing for this team going forward.
Polak provides the Blues with a physical presence lacking on their top defensive pairing. Tallying 88
penalty minutes last season, he was the closest thing to an enforcer on the blue line. However, although typically known as punishing defender, St. Louis got surprisingly decent offensive numbers – 11 points (all assists), along with a +/- of 6. Polak is not a great player, as he does not make any major on contributions on special teams nor is he a scoring threat, but he is a solid defender for the Blues.
Acquired last season through a mid-season trade with the Blue Jackets, Russell gave the Blues good productions (9 points, 13 +/-, 16:51 TOI/G) in only 43 games with St. Louis. Even more promising, before last season where he was burdened with injury issues, he tallied at least 20 points the previous three seasons. At only 25, Russell definitely has the most upside of any of the players on this list, and could be a solid defender on the Blues for many years to come.
St. Louis’ 2007 first round pick has been underwhelming thus far in his career, playing only 27 games in both of his NHL seasons. Last season, the 23 year old registered 6 points and had a +/- of 7 and a TOI/G of almost 16 mins. Cole definitely needs to step up his game if he expects to get a starting spot on this team over veteran Jeff Woywitka, who the team signed in the offseason. He definitely is not guaranteed a spot on the NHL squad, but if he makes the opening day roster, expect to see some improvements with continued experience.
Although the group above is not well-known or particularly esteemed within the NHL, they are all solid players who bring something to a Blues team that already has two all-star defenseman and two very serviceable goaltenders.